No one captures the border—its history and imagination, its danger, contradiction, and redemption—like Fernando A. Flores, whose stories reimagine and reinterpret the region’s existence with peerless style. In his immersive, uncanny borderland, things are never what they seem: a world where the sun is both rising and setting, and where conniving possums efficiently take over an entire town and rewrite its history.
The stories in Valleyesque dance between the fantastical and the hyperreal with dexterous, often hilarious flair. A dying Frédéric Chopin stumbles through Ciudad Juárez in the aftermath of his mother’s death, attempting to recover his beloved piano that was seized at the border, while a muralist is taken on a psychedelic journey by an airbrushed Emiliano Zapata T-shirt. A woman is engulfed by a used-clothing warehouse with a life of its own, and a grieving mother breathlessly chronicles the demise of a town decimated by violence. In two separate stories, queso dip and musical rhythms are bottled up and sold for mass consumption. And in the final tale, Flores pieces together the adventures of a young Lee Harvey Oswald as he starts a music career in Texas.
Swinging between satire and surrealism, grief and joy, Valleyesque is a boundary- and border-pushing collection from a one-of-a-kind stylist and voice. With the visceral imagination that made his debut novel, Tears of the Trufflepig, a cult classic, Flores brings his vision of the border to life—and beyond.
Praise for Valleyesque
"These stories are not straightforward reckonings with history, nor are they satires or dismissals of it: they’re something more slippery and playful instead, sly and oblique, like ghosts or people dressed as ghosts performing a tragicomic roadshow for a motley array of strangers on a sweltering afternoon."—David Leo Rice, Southwest Review
"Collapsing reality into fantasy, Valleyesque offers a surreal trip into a world where the impossible and the painfully real exist in tandem."—Alta
"Bizarre and funny. Flores will take you on a surreal ride along the border that involves all its familiar, sociopolitical trappings, but also experiments and expands on them, reimagining them in a different light."—Book Riot
"Reading Valleyesque feels like entering a new dimension, a southwestern twilight zone where slacker outcasts and political gangsters rub elbows with hallucinatory muralists. But the genius of Flores’ work is precisely that this is our world—a reality seeped in humor and chaos with an undercurrent of divine order. We are lucky to have a writer so deeply unique, so ecstatically original as Fernando A. Flores."—Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author of Sabrina & Corina
"Fernando A. Flores is a masterful stylist, ferrying language across back and forth across landscape, border, and social class to invent a literary voice like no other. Reading Flores always reminds me of no one but Flores: he's one of the rare truly singular fiction writers of our time, and his stories are endlessly innovative, surprising, and fun. Valleyesque is not to be missed."—Matt Bell, author of Appleseed
"The stories in Valleyesque are heartbreaking, hilarious, tender and hallucinogenic, often all at once. Fernando A. Flores' voice is unmistakable, authentic and true, and these stories—singular, psychedelic, sad and nimble—capture a writer at the height of his powers. From diners and coffee shops to one-bedroom apartments, these stories evoke the complex facets of Tejano culture and, like the best literature, make it universal."—Mark Haber, author of Reinhardt's Garden
"These are marvelously unpredictable stories, anchored by Fernando A. Flores’s deadpan prose and his surefooted navigation of those overlapping territories, the real and the fantastic, where so much of the best contemporary fiction now lives."—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
"[Flores's] own strange stories are some of the best to come along in quite a while. This is an accomplished book from an author determined to keep literature weird. Tales from the Rio Grande Valley that are as beautiful as they are bizarre."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Flores takes to the elusive and dangerous borderland in his inventive debut collection . . . Using a blend of experimentation and magical realism, this conveys the border’s many sociopolitical shades. The zany set pieces add up to a work with explosive substance."—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
Read an Excerpt
Watching the news on television, Marcos yelled, “That anchor’s face ain’t real,” and hurled an empty glass. The glass bounced off the TV screen and, curiously, neither shattered. Pissed as hell, he walked to the kitchen...